“Only You Are Responsible For You”
This is the last sentence inside of the Suarez International videotaped liability release. These are not just words! It should be the very core to your gun safety philosophy. It does not matter what you know or where you learned your safe gun handling habits. It does not matter where you train right now. Only you are responsible for your own safety habits.
This means that you need to look at what you have been taught or what you do and decide if it is really good enough. Remember, the most likely person that you are going to shoot IS YOURSELF!
“How good is good enough?”
Is your gun handling safety habits really good enough? When it comes down to putting unexpecting holes into vital areas of your own body are you really doing the best that you can to mitigate this possibility, all while still learning to be combat effective?
Gunfighting is dangerous! Training to gunfight is also dangerous. The reality of the matter is that the more advanced that you get inside of your training, the more dangerous your training becomes. When we look at the reality of the fight and the likely issues that will arise inside of a fight, it is clear that we need to learn a lot more than just the optimal skill sets for the optimal situations. The reality of the reactive gunfight puts us in sub-optimal positions that require our safety habits to be the very best that they can be. We need to understand that the whole competition based safety habits simply may not be good enough inside of a fight or inside of fight focused training.
We all should be at the point where we at least know the Four Basic Rules of Gun Safety.
(1) Treat every gun as if it was loaded.
(2) Do not cover anything that you are not willing to destroy
(3) Keep your finger off of the trigger and outside of the trigger guard until you have made the conscience decision to shoot.
(4) Know your target and what is in line with your target, behind and in front.
But these are very general rules that do not nail down specific safety habits.
In the past, Gabe Suarez has done an outstanding job of bringing a little common sense and reality to these rules. I would highly recommend that you check into Gabe’s take on the Four Basic Safety Rules.
The point of this article is to talk about overlooked liabilities and bad habits, more so than rules. It is the overlooked liabilities and bad habits that really define your personal safety level. The mitigation of liabilities and bad habits are what allow you to proceed into advanced levels of training, all while keeping yourself as safe as you possibly can. I will be covering the top five overlooked liabilities and bad habits that I see inside of my courses.
Overlooked liabilities can be fixed inside of a two day course, but as an advanced instructor teaching advance students advanced skill set, I should not have to constantly babysit people through their safety awareness. I should not have to constantly point out that safety issues are being over looked. These are all issues that should be taken care before the course by wrapping your head around the safety concerns involved with overlooking basic concepts. Sure I will remind you, but really, shouldn’t this be something that I should not have to remind people of. The whole “You know that you are jeopardizing shooting yourself because you are overlooking some very basic concepts” conversation gets very old, very quickly.
Top Three Overlooked Liabilities
Loose Garments Around Your Holster
This is by far the most commonly overlooked liability by the students. It feels as if I could spend an entire course reminding people to tuck in their loose garments around their holster. Getting a loose garment caught inside of the trigger guard while reholstering will but an unexpected hole in you. Why would you risk such a thing over something so simple as keeping your under garment tucked in tight and your over garment clear of the holster? All of my under garments tuck in a good 12” past my belt line to insure that that do not come untucked and end up in my holster or trigger guard. When I reholster it is seen as an administrative process that is all geared toward a “Don’t shoot yourself stupid” mindset. My over garment is cleared completely before any reholstering is done. I have zero concern for speed or coolness factor. If I need to look, I look, because it is just administrative. It is my opinion that every time you head back to ammo up, you should take a look at your garments around your holster. A couple of seconds of cheap insurance mitigates your risks substantially. If your under garment is coming untucked, tuck it in. Furthermore, take that lesson to heart, go home and find a garment that will not come untucked. It is not brain surgery or rocket science, it is basic common sense! This is something that an advanced instructor should not have to point out!
Why do under garments come untucked?
They come untucked because of the “elbow up” portion of the draw stroke and the pivoting during “the turret of the tank” concept. “A” shirts and Under Armor type garments work very well for me. They are tight, tuck in deep, and deal with the manipulation of the shoulder, without coming untucked.
Dress around your gun and test your garments before you show up in a course.
An instructor should not have to show you how to dress.